Apr 012014
 

Guest Post by Mindy Klasky

Thanks, Doranna, for letting me hang out here today and for allowing me to share some of the background of my Diamond Brides Series, including Perfect Pitch, which is in stores now.

Once upon a time, I wrote my first novel. The Thirteenth Teaching was an epic fantasy, a quest novel that involved the collection of twelve artifacts, each pointing toward the reincarnation of a vengeful goddess. Clocking in at 175,000 words, Teaching was rejected by every major publisher in New York. Continue reading »

Mar 172014
 

I’ve been tagged! Tagged, that is, to participate in a blog hop for writers, which I think is actually supposed to be called “My Writing Process.”  But, you know, what fun is that?

Every Monday authors blog about their own writing process, using this format. This is definitely a multi-genre hop–so I feel like I fit right in!

(Except for the part where I somehow wasn’t included in the blog hop links, so…I guess I’m on my own.  But I did the blog, so I’m doggonit gonna put it up!)

PS We retrospectively figured that out!  Thanks to Susan Holmes, who did the hop a few weeks ago.

What am I working on? Continue reading »

Feb 112014
 

by Doranna

More of an Underwear Evolution than a Bloggy Evolution.  But it amused me.

More of an Underwear Evolution than a Bloggy Evolution. But it amused me.

Yep, I’m in a process. 

I’ve never been particularly good at saying, “Hey!  I’m a writer!  I would really like it if people bought my stuff, read my stuff, and hey, even enjoyed my stuff.”  Because it’s not just how I make my living, such as it is–it’s what drives my life forward.  Writing.  Reading.  Knowing it matters.

Consequently, I get a little shucky-darn when it comes to putting my stuff out there.  For one thing, saying, “I would really like it if…” leaves one entirely open to the crushing response of “but we don’t actually like you.”  (Ouch, right?) Continue reading »

Aug 052013
 

Guest Blog by Tara Maya

Every once in a while, bopping around the blogosphere, there’s a pleasant little collision of chance and serendipity, and you walk away with a smile.  Such it was when I stumbled into Tara’s first installation of her indie series The Unfinished Song (note: “installation” means “be ready for a cliffhanger”).  Lovely cover–yes, it matters–intriguing world-building, interesting magic, and great character stakes.  She was interested in blogging around, so…here you are!  Pretty much everything she says here about the Five Signs…yeah, me too!

Five Signs You’re a Writer

tara maya headshot1. You read. A LOT.

You read constantly, or at least did at one point in your life. Some of us had more time to read (for pleasure) when we are kids, but are swamped with work now. For others, literature seemed boring when we were younger, but now has appeal. In my case, I devoured science fiction and fantasy when I was younger, but while I was in grad school most of my reading was non-fiction. Once I graduated, I had time for fiction again. I do still read non-fiction for pleasure and for research.

 

2. You have been coming up with stories since you were a kid.

You have way more story ideas than you could ever write down. When did you write your first “story”? Okay, maybe it wasn’t much of a story, but when did you start trying? In my case, I made little pretend “books” out of folded paper and scribbles before I could write my ABCs. I wrote my first four complete and illustrated stories in fifth grade and completed my first novel in Jr. High. Granted, they all sucked rocks. But I know I am not unusual in starting out young. Most writers I know began writing early. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they published early, or that those around them recognized their efforts.

 

3. You have a bunch of manuscripts under your bed.

It’s one thing to write stories in your head. That makes you a storyteller. But not yet a writer. If you’ve actually written down your words, that’s what makes you a writer. Not getting published. Writing is what makes a writer. Getting published, and more to the point, selling copies, is what makes you a paid writer, a professional writer, a writer who can actually eat something other than ramen noodles, and that’s a good thing. But you’ve already started writing without any idea whether you can sell those words or not.

 

4. You write for love, not for money.

Let’s face it. You know that being a writer is not as lucrative as other jobs, like doctor, lawyer or fast food employee. Screw that. You’re writing anyway. Cruel reality may force you into a day job. It happens. You write anyway. You’re jotting down ideas for your novel between flipping burgers or taking notes on your character in your office cubicle. You care enough to constantly hone your craft. You would write even if your plane crashed on a deserted island. Even if you were locked in a prison on Gamma Beta IV. Even if you had to become an accountant.

 

5. You write for money, not love.

Nah, this doesn’t really contradict what I just said. It only seems to. Because if you really love writing–or any art–enough, you’ll realize that the only way anyone will let you do it full time is if you can get good enough to earn mullah at the same time. Yeah. By selling your writing. So even though it feels like jabbing steak knives into your eyes, you send out queries, you send out review requests, you–ugh, self-promote. You sell your sweat and tears as if it were vacuum cleaner parts. And on days when the sky is grey and your nose is runny, you feel sorry for yourself because it turns out that writing is a job, and all jobs have moments that suck. The rest of the time, you appreciate–I sure hope you appreciate because otherwise why do this?–that you have the best damn job in the world.

 

Unfinished Song-Initate-100Bio

Tara Maya has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia. She’s pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies. To find out more about Tara’s SF and fantasy novels, you can visit her blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Jul 282013
 

by Doranna

“Read the reviews!”

“Ignore all reviews!”

“Don’t let them get to you!”

Well, bother.si-s-five-star-md

It used to be easier to ignore reviews, but I think we all know that reader reviews have become an important part of discoverability for all books, but especially for ebooks.  It’s important to keep track of them–to pluck out the awesome phrase of praise, or to pluck out critical information.  I recently learned about an embarrassing formatting error via a reader review, for instance.  (Yes, it’s fixed!)

And if I care deeply about what I’m doing, how could reviews not get to me?

But some are harder than others.

A Feral DarknessI talked about the review of A Feral Darkness, where the reader really, really, REALLY didn’t like the book.  I wasn’t sure she was reading the book I wrote, but nonetheless…that was her feeling about it.  Those are a little hard to take when the review responds with such viciousness, because, wow…who needs to deal with that?

But in another way, that makes it easier to step back from the sting of it.  “Well, this book quite clearly isn’t for this reader.  It happens.”  It’s happened to me, too–where I pick up a book and am utterly taken aback by it, but also know it’s not due to craft issues…it’s just because that particular book isn’t sympatico with me.  Different strokes and all that.  Or sometimes when a book pushes all the wrong buttons, as clearly happened with the A Feral Darkness reader.  Whether she likes it or not, that book reached out to her on some level.  She just wasn’t happy about it.

c.e.barrenlands.200Then there are reviews like this one-star that BARRENLANDS recently received:

“I have downloaded many books recently and have not had a chance to read this book so i(sic) am unable to rate at this time.”

Well, okay.  Thanks for sharing that.  But why, oh why, drag the book down with a one-star rating?

So those are frustrating, but don’t have any particular emotional impact.

Here’s another frustration:

“Heart pounding saga–a great read. Captivating from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you like action this is the book for you.”

“Wait!” you cry.  “What’s your problem with that?  What more could you want, you darned prima dona author?”

Well, I’d like to know why that wonderful review came with a low-star rating.  *sob*

But that’s still not the hardest review to read.  I can marinate in the review’s praise–it’s wonderful to have someone say such nice things about a book–and hope to heck I get enough good ratings to offset the stars.

Nope, the hardest comes with the low star reviews where the reader is perfectly literate, has clearly read the book…and just didn’t like it.  And says so quite effectively.

I can’t step aside from that one.  There’s no ax being ground, no obvious buttons being pushed.  It was a book the reader hoped to like, but didn’t.  And those are the reviews that make me stop and worry and wonder and second-guess myself.

A certain amount of that is healthy…it helps keeps the writing fresh.  Too much of it…stops you in your tracks.

(One reason I’m writing this blog today instead of writing pages, eh?)

c.e.dun.ladys.jess.200The truth is, reader reviews have always had power.  Now they have more power than ever, and for that reason I appreciate any reader review with thought behind it, even the ones that make me doubt myself.

(In order to remain uber-PC, I should say I appreciate all reader reviews, but…nahhh, I’m not a saint.  I don’t in fact appreciate one-star “I haven’t read the book yet” reviews.)

But I know it takes time to post such reviews, and I like it that people are invested enough in their books to bother.  I like it that they’re invested enough in my books to bother.  That’s the whole reason I started writing, after all.  To create stories that people care about as much as I do.

 

Jul 172013
 

by Doranna

note: I scribbled this blog last year sometime, and decided that the timing would provide too many clues.  This morning I found the scribble, and here we are…

Today, I kill someone.

Premeditated.  Deliberate.  With much aforethought.

And boy, am I going to enjoy it.  Revel in it.  WALLOW in it.

Has anyone ever mentioned…don’t tread on a writer?

Ironically, also a story in which my dog poses on the cover...BUT Sully Beagle isn't based on any of my dogs, and was in fact created before I had Beagles!

Ironically, also a story in which my dog poses on the cover…BUT Sully Beagle isn’t based on any of my dogs, and was in fact created before I had Beagles!


Actually, I’ve never done this before.
  I’m pretty careful not to put people I know into my work (no matter how some folks persist in guessing otherwise).  Especially after too many incidents of people assuming that authors simply pluck people from their own lives instead of having the craft and experience to create them and make them feel real.

(I’ll never forget the one person who thought he knew better than me when it came to basing a certain character on myself.  “No, she really isn’t me.”  Yes, he assured me.  She was.  I had just done it subconsciously, but clearly she was in fact me.)

As if the process of putting a book together is so random that I might not notice what I’ve done.  Or maybe as if I didn’t know myself well enough.

The truth is, my characters come from all over.  Pieces of someone I saw in a doctor’s office, someone I passed on the street, someone I glimpsed on the television–and yes, tiny pieces of my experience that in no way represent the whole, just as actors channel their performances through their own experiences.

Even when it comes to the animals–er, not that I ever have dogs, cats, or horses in my books, oh no-ooo–I only rarely imbue them with pieces of animals I know.  Characters and story and plot are all so interwoven that no author can afford to limit her options by sticking with Real Life Characters.  That’s just the way it is, no matter what other people might think.

And besides, supposing that you know better than the author when it comes to the author’s own work…that’s just rude.  So don’t do that.  No, no, you can’t even have that sly look of disagreement on your face.  We can see that, you know.

Okay, that felt good to say.  And having said it, I now confess to the murder–and to breaking the “no real characters” twice in the same story!  And for two very different reasons.

Tanner the dog (and his dogmom) found their way into TRACKING MURDER because Tanner’s dogmom won an auction for a tuckerization.  He was at first simply going to be a walk-on, but because (see above) characters and story and plot are all so interwoven…well, there you are.  It turned into something much more.  Appropriate to the story, and more than just a walk-on–a perfect illustration of how it’s just not possible to use real personalities in fiction without changing either the story or the personality, and still do justice to both.  And that’s why I don’t.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go commit that murder.  Because, finally, I’ve decided to do it.  In this case, someone crossed that line of behavior so very badly, so deliberately…that I’m taking the plunge.  Even now, the story takes precedence, requiring a completely revised character to fill this role.  But it won’t matter that no one else knows who the character represents–and why the character is taking a dive.  I’ll know.

And I’m looking forward to it.

Postscript: Yes.  I enjoyed it very, very much.  So watch yourself.
Apr 212013
 

by Doranna

Last week I wrote a lamentful blog about my April 20 deadline for finishing first draft of LYNX REVEALED.  You know…some chatter about deadlines, some chatter about unexpected CEs, some whining from the muse…

It was a stiff deadline and I needed to prove to myself that I could make it after several years of life transitions that turned my writing routines all murky, if ever ongoing.  But hitting homestretch in the story with the addition of several hours of work per day on the CEs, and…

Well.  I was sad.

Also, there’s always someone here at the office standing station with his insistent little Beagle feet against my leg, clamoring for attention.  He’s always done this, but he also misses Belle.

"Training time!  Train the Beagle!"

“Training time! Train the Beagle!”

“Train the Beagle NOW.”

Well, here I am to tell you that HA HA HA!  Friday morning, I wrapped up that first draft ANYWAY!  And yes!  I’m using lots of ALL CAPS!

Because I DID IT!

Take THAT, Chaos!

Done!  Done done donedone!

Done! Done done donedone!

Not only done, but darn close to target!  (80-85K words for the Nocturne line.  And I know I’ll be adding about 500 in a missing scenelett, and will tighten down a bit in second draft, when I won’t generally do much but refine the words on paper and slide through the story with defining tweaks to the various threads of it.)

The close-up.  Strike a pose!

The close-up. Strike a pose!

 

Of course, here I am two days later and the Muse is missing her first draft time rather badly, in spite of a full weekend of doggy and family events.  But she’ll have to suck it up; there’s a week or more before I go back to the story with second draft.  On Monday, I start right in on the proofs for CLAIMED BY THE DEMON, while simultaneously working CEs on the new edition of SCENT OF DANGER.  Plus, the cover–!

And also this coming week, Big Things in the Offing for the Dogs.  But that’s another blog.  This one is all about BEING DONE.

Do the dance, Numfar!

Dec 122012
 

by Doranna

My friend Julie Czerneda tagged me for this blog meme–she’s already done hers, and you can find it at that link.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

Reckoner RedeemedAm I supposed to have a single answer for this?  I’m working on the backlist production of the Changespell Saga–that’s what’ll hit the “shelves” first.  And I’m preparing to write LYNX REVEALED, the next Nocturne Sentinels title.  And TAMING THE DEMON is the next frontlist title to hit the shelves (another Nocturne, in the new Demon Blade series).

But my big new exciting thing at the moment is the original (and probably author-released) third book in the Reckoners series, RECKONER REDEEMED.  I’m trying to decide whether to do a Kickstarter for it (which will have a huge effect on its length)–but I need a certain amount of material on hand before I make the decision, and that’s what I’m working on now.

(You see?  I already made the cover for it.  Because that’s the way my muse works.)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Books 1 & 2 in the series?  No, that’s the smarty pants answer.

The Reckoner Series was an idea I kicked around for several years.  I wanted a little bit Buffy, a little bit Scooby Doo, a little bit Ghostbusters (Garrie, our reckoner), and a whole lotta Trevarr (our hero).  Heh heh heh.  Sklayne built himself from whole cloth, and knew who he was the moment I started typing his first scene, so I’m not sure I can take credit for him.

I was targeting paranormal romance–since that’s where I’m active right now with the Nocturnes–but I really saw this as a chance to shift a little close to my fantasy genre roots.

This book in particular was pretty much ordained.  I pitched the series as a threesome, and Tor picked up the first two (THE RECKONERS, STORM OF RECKONING).  The first book was released on the day that Amazon removed the buy button from all Macmillan books, and that…

Well.  Was that.

So I wrote STORM not knowing if Tor would pick up #3, and I wrote it true to the outline/proposal…and that story definitely needs to be finished.  For all of us!  I also have the rights back to THE RECKONERS, so will be putting out an author cut of that one.  (To meet production needs, I had to cut about 30K words from that book, and I think it’ll benefit if it gets some of them back.)  STORM OF RECKONING is still available, however.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal romance, with a robust cast of characters and the evidence of my fantasy genre roots.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

How to choose?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Buffy meets interdimensional Ghostbusters.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m not entirely sure yet.  That is, the first two books were repped and published by Tor Paranormal Romance.  This third book may go out under my Blue Hound Visions imprint, or it may go through The Knight Agency digital assistance program.  It won’t be a publisher book, however.  This is for me and Reckoners readers, and for my muse.  I promised her we would do this.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Dunno yet!  It’ll be written as I can buy time for it (one reason I’m considering the Kickstarter), and will probably grab moments between the scheduled Nocturnes.  It should be about 4 months total, when all is said and done.  Depends on the length, too, which depends on whether I do the Kickstarter thing…

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Um?

Sometimes I think readers are best positioned to answer that question.  So if anyone has a clue–based on the first two books–I’m  all ears (eyes).  It’s a book with dry humor, a lot of attitude, and a lot of sly heart.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I couldn’t not?

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It is, as are all my books, about people coping with change and emotion–about learning who they are, by how they deal with what happens in their lives.  This means I get to make things happen in their lives, oh yes I do.

In this case, there are a number of elements I haven’t played with before.  Trevarr’s world is pretty dark, and that was fun to play with–while giving him a lot to learn about Garrie’s world.  Sklayne was the most fun, I think–both powerful and naive, shackled and uncontrollable.  I love him to pieces.  8)

=========

Thanks, Julie, for the chance to play with this blog meme!  And what do you guys think?  Kickstarter yes?  Kickstarter no?  Just shut up and write?

 

 

 

Oct 292012
 

by Doranna

The very nice thing about taking the blog off the M/W schedule is that if I feel like posting something oddball, I can.

Like this. No doggie pics, no videos, just a bit of cold wrath.

It goes like so:

Dear Amazon Authors Whose Books I Reviewed:

I’m sorry that Amazon is removing all my reviews.  Authors, it turns out, are no longer welcome or allowed to review at Amazon.  Retroactively.

No matter that some of us did it very, very rarely–or that our handful of reviews look skewed to the high stars only because we don’t post reviews for books that come in any lower on the scale.  These are our peers; if we don’t like a book, we prefer not to say so.

On the one hand I understand why this is happening.  Those authors who paid for reviews, those authors who run amok dissing other books to damage the competition, those authors who review their own books…

Well, people like this are why we can’t have nice things.

I don’t happen to think disenfranchising everyone who ever wrote a book is the way to deal with the situation.

I also think that while this will prevent every author who also happens to be a reader from expressing delight with the books they love, it won’t stop the stupid people from behaving badly.

They’ll find another way to behave badly.  Trust me.

So I’m sorry my reviews aren’t there to support your books any longer.  I’m sorry that if you happened to love and review one of my books, those reviews are gone, too.  I was honored to have them.

Oct 222012
 

by Doranna

Things are starting to pick up in DuncanHorse World.  But first, a random bit of goodness:

Tiger Bound

Tiger Bound from England!

 

It’s an overseas version of Tiger Bound!  How cool is that?  I’m supposed to get copies of all international versions and I usually do (I have a small batch of foreign language books here that I admire every now and then), but this set came pretty promptly on the heels of the US version.  Neat!

Ahem.  So back to the big white pony, who is still dealing with flares from his severe reaction to the spring shots (which he’ll likely never get again, aside from tetanus).  A week or so ago I ordered him some $$$TransferFactor$$$, since my consulting vet has seen it work wonders for situations like his.  I wouldn’t know yet…they don’t seem to be in any great hurry to send it.

HURRY UP, PEOPLE!  Duncan and I are waiting.

Consulting Vet is ConneryBeagle’s chiropractic vet, and we’ve had some helpful casual conversations about Duncan’s situation over the summer.  I decided to make it official so I could really grill her (without friend-guilt!), so here we are.

Last week Consulting Vet also came by to poke around his furry white sides, chat about his diet, and ponder how to best manage the ongoing symptoms.  Duncan was sleepy in the sun in his early winter coat, and so willingly gave blood, schmoozed, and let himself be admired.

The blood work is just to eliminate certain concerns, after which we’re likely to do what I’ve been doing all summer–daily reality checks for the three subtle signs that he’s at the front edge of a flare, and tossing dexamethasone at him if I find anything.  It only seems to occur every couple of weeks–the heat seems to be a problem, so maybe winter will help, too–and at those doses, the steroids aren’t a big issue (barring ugly results on the blood work–I hope to know something this week).

Meanwhile, we’ve had some brisk mornings, and he does seem to be feeling a little better, yes he does.  But if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video…even better! Although I’m just now realizing that all the captions I put in the dark area in the video editor do not show up in the YouTube conversion. Oh, for pete’s sake..

(Don’t you wish you had that kind of energy?)